By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Football has three phases, and they all matter. And the Patriots found a way to score touchdowns in each one on the way to a 35-14 win over the Giants on Thursday Night Football.
The game started inauspiciously for both offenses. Both Tom Brady and Daniel Jones threw interceptions in their first four possessions. Brady's was particularly brutal because he missed a wide open Julian Edelman deep down the field.
But the scoreboard finally lit up late in the quarter - on a special teams play. Brandon Bolden pushed the line back to cause Riley Dixon's punt to be deflected straight in the air, and it landed in the hands of rookie Chase Winovich for an easy six-yard scamper into the end zone to make it 7-0 Patriots.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Patriots offense finally found daylight. Bolden played a major role on the next touchdown too, as he took the carry behind a heavy personnel package to punch it in from the 1-yard line and make it 14-0.
However, the Giants got their equalizer on the next possession with one huge play. On a deep throw by Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, Golden Tate bobbled it as Jonathan Jones got a hand on the ball but ultimately reeled it in and took it all the way to the end zone for a 64-yard score. Just like that, back to a seven-point lead for the Pats.
It got even crazier on the Patriots' next possession. Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter beat tight end Ryan Izzo one-on-one and knocked the ball loose from Brady for the fumble. Giants defensive end Markus Golden scooped it for the score to make it 14-14.
But, just like we all drew it up ... the Patriots responded to the Giants' back-to-back touchdowns with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own. After James White was denied a touchdown catch on replay, Brady barreled into the end zone himself to make it 21-14 Patriots, a lead they would take to halftime.
The third quarter started off well for the Patriots, as Stephon Gilmore came up with an interception against Jones on a throw intended for tight end Rhett Ellison. Brady's ensuing drive, though, went a long distance but came up empty. The Pats bled 9:12 off the clock and ran 18 plays, but the drive ended with a Mike Nugent missed field goal after holder Jake Bailey had the laces facing inward. A big-time no-no.
After the Giants and Patriots traded possessions, the Pats defense showed back up in a major way. Giants running back Jon Hilliman made a catch and a football move before Jamie Collins knocked the ball loose, and Kyle Van Noy scooped it up then ran and dove for the pylon for a touchdown to make it 28-14.
After Brady lofted a beautiful 36-yard throw to Julian Edelman that set up a first-and-goal at the 3-yard line, Brady jammed in another score to put the game away.
The Patriots unfortunately suffered a number of injuries during the game. Josh Gordon, Patrick Chung, Matt LaCosse, Dont'a Hightower, Jakob Johnson, and J.C. Jackson all had to at least temporarily leave the game with injuries. Jackson returned in the fourth quarter.
Up Next: The Patriots get a much-needed 11-day break before the play again, which will be on Monday Night Football at the Jets on Oct. 21.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].